(LONDON – March 29th, 2012) Richard Reed has come a long way since the age of 16, when he worked for £2 per hour in a factory making dog biscuits. Now, the Innocent co-founder runs a growing empire with a £200m a year turnover, and will soon be fronting a new BBC series called Be Your Own Boss. Speaking at Hult’s Executive Speaker Series, Reed mentioned the key ingredient for entrepreneurial success is having a clear purpose.
“Your business has to have a mission,” Reed said. “You have to be really clear on why you exist – for Google this is to organize the world's information and for Innocent it is to get healthy food to people. That is what we care about.” Consumers obviously care about healthy food too; today the company is thriving, with a presence in 13 European countries.
After graduating, Reed and two university friends set out to start a business that would make life better for people. After many ideas the group decided to launch Innocent Smoothies. Like many start-ups in today’s environment securing funding was a challenge however their perseverance paid off. All three are now millionaires.
When a Hult student asked Reed what advice he had for people eager to follow in his footsteps and start a business from scratch, Reed’s answer was definitive: “Absolutely, do it.” Reed also offered advice on how seemingly small details can make a big difference when it comes to competing against rival companies. “If you do lots of little things better than your competitors then it becomes harder for them to imitate you,” he said.
Innocent built a valuable brand in this way, with ‘enjoy by’ dates on its plastic bottles instead of ‘use by’ dates, and delivery vans that are covered in grass or painted like cows. “When you are building a brand, getting noticed is the most important thing,” Reed said.